Wimbledon may now be over for Alastair Gray, but there’s no reason to believe that he won’t be back on tennis’ greatest stage again.
At 288th in the ATP rankings Gray, who is a member of the LTA’s Men’s & Women’s Programme, through which the governing body provides a range of support to players with potential to progress towards competing in Grand Slams and representing Great Britain in Davis or Billie Jean King Cup, was the second-lowest ranked player in the men’s singles draw this year, having received a wildcard into the main draw from the All England Club.
However, he was one of a historic ten Brits that progressed to the second round, beating Tseng Chun-hsin in straight sets on his Grand Slam debut.
Gray’s run came to an end in the second round, beaten by 11th seed Taylor Fritz 6-3 7-6 (3) 6-3 out on Court 12 on Thursday.
At no point throughout the contest did it seem like there was a significant gulf between the 24-year-old from Twickenham and Fritz, who has won two ATP titles this year.
With the Brit now looking to compete on the ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour more regularly, there are plenty of positives to take.
“I had an amazing time out there. It was a difficult match, he’s a great player, but I think I got my game out onto the court and I caused him some issues,” he said.
“I was a break up in the second set and in the third. Obviously, no one likes losing, but to be on a show court at Wimbledon, my first time, it was an amazing experience.
“I was talking to my coach about the match afterwards and we were picking up a couple of small things to improve which would’ve maybe swung the match, which is just exciting to think about.
“He’s such an amazing player, he’s been having a great year and he’s been playing very well, so it gives me a lot of confidence. It’s encouraging that I was causing so many issues.
“I think I’ll use it to keep going for more and more, to keep striving. Playing Wimbledon, you get the taste of what it’s like, which is pure excitement. It’s just great for motivation.
“You play Wimbledon and it pushes you to want to come back next year and play the rest of the Slams – because you know what it feels like now. You just want to keep pushing for more.”
There was no rest for Gray afterwards who later went onto court to play doubles alongside good friend and – as we all now know – likely future housemate Ryan Peniston.
The British duo had to come back on Friday due to their match against Joran Vliegen and Jackson Withrow being suspended on Thursday night, trailing two sets to one.
Despite forcing a decider the duo fell in a five-set epic, ending Gray’s Wimbledon for 2022 – with a return to the Grand Slam stage sooner rather than later his target.
He added: “It was a good match, 6-4 in the fifth. I really enjoy playing doubles. It’s really good for my game as I come forward to the net quite a lot, good for serving and returning, I really enjoy it – especially with Ryan.
“I’m going to make a push to get into the US Open qualies, there’s a couple more weeks before the deadline. That’ll be my goal.”
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